Re: Morton on Muller-Hill and Johnson

Glenn Morton (
Mon, 17 Mar 1997 19:40:12 -0600

At 09:05 AM 3/17/97, Paul A. Nelson wrote:
>In his zeal to correct Phillip Johnson, Glenn Morton has overstepped the
>bounds of careful scholarship. The account Phil cited, from an article by the
>distinguished German molecular biologist Benno Muller-Hill, was published
>under the title "Science, Truth, and Other Values," in _The Quarterly Review
>of Biology_ 68 (1993):399-407.

Thank you for the reference. In the book review, Johnson does not give the
citation for the Muller-Hill quotation.


>I would like to ask Glenn how he knows that this account is not true. By openly
>implying as much in his post to this list, without evidence, he has slandered
>both Benno Muller-Hill and Phil Johnson.

I gave my reasons, which you apparently missed, for wondering about the
validity of that tale in my first post.
1. I find it inconceivable or incredibly sloppy on the part of the teacher
to have set a portable telescope out, which requires careful alignment of
the mount with the pole, then requires looking through a spotting scope to
align the scope with the object, and then have the teacher never look in the
telesope itself??? If you mis-align the scope mount with the pole, turning
the telescope to keep up with the earth's rotation will cause the object to
drift off the field of vision. The higher the magnification, the more
rapidly this will occur. If it happened as Muller-Hill says, then the
teacher was incredibly sloppy.

2. After inexperienced hands fiddle with the focus, they are likely to bump
the scope off the target. Anyone who has tried to show several young kids
something through a telescope will have had experience with someone bumping
into the scope by accident, pushing on the eye-piece and moving the
telescope. I have had this experience numerous times. Any of this would
require a subsequent realignment.

In any event the story, which is about young children, is not about trained
scientists saying that they see things which don't exist and that is what
Muller-Hill and Johnson say the story is about. There is a domineering
teacher, who may or may not be a scientist, and there are 40 13-year-olds
who are definitely NOT scientists.

I did not doubt Johnson quoted the story correctly; I doubted Muller-Hill's
account and I doubt it is relevant to science. I don't see the relevance of
the story to self-deceived scientists.

>Furthermore, I would encourage Glenn to consult the original article, as, it
>seems, he has not done.

I would have liked to, but since Johnson gave no scholarly reference, that
made it quite difficult to consult this paper.

I apologize if I was too harsh. I really wish Christians wouldn't say the
things about science that they say in order to keep a cherished theological
interpretation. I have had numerous people in my own church and elsewhere
tell me that they don't really believe what I say about geology or science

1. I have to accept uniformitarianism in order to stay employed or get

2. I have been deceived by evolutionists, or college professors.

3. I am not a christian and should search my soul.


4. I am desparate to throw God out of the Bible so I can live like I want to.

I get a little tired of hearing non-scientists say these types of things
which obviously impugn the integrity of scientists in general and me in
particular. If anyone wants to say that the scientist is wrong because the
data should be interpreted in such and such a fashion, that is fine. But to
say that the scientist is, deceived, deceptive, hiding data, etc, is to fuel
the above type of responses in the laity and removes observational data from
the discussion. If you are deceived into believing a lie, I don't have to
listen to what you say. By spreading this pervasive, christian view of
science, YEC's and Johnson are innoculating people against any counter
evidence to what they say.

I am going to take a break from this list for a while, so you get the last
word if you want it.


Foundation, Fall and Flood